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Review: Juicy 'Details' is strangely entertaining

Tobey Maguire returns to the screen in this improbable yet believable film about and OB-GYN and a raccoon.

November 01, 2012|By Gary Goldstein
  • Elizabeth Banks, left, and Tobey Maguire in "The Details."
Elizabeth Banks, left, and Tobey Maguire in "The Details." (Jan Cook / Radius )

"The Details," an offbeat, original, pitch dark comedy for adults, offers a chancy return role for ex-"Spider-Man" star Tobey Maguire, who's been largely (and sadly) absent from the big screen of late.

As Jeff Lang, an OB-GYN whose routine life snowballs into a suburban hell after a sod-swallowing raccoon starts tearing up his backyard, Maguire tilts his nice-guy persona on its ear while effectively maintaining a kind of "who me?" — and "why me?" — innocence.

It's a nutty and surprising ride steered by writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes in his first turn behind the camera since 2004's fine "Mean Creek." The filmmaker's bent for long, unflinching takes allows his talented cast ample room to shine.

Once Dr. Jeff wages war against the aggressive raccoons, he finds himself pulled into a vortex of wildly swinging actions and reactions. It all adds up to create a dicey morality tale that's as improbable as it is strangely believable.

The excellent ensemble also includes Elizabeth Banks as Jeff's withholding wife, Nealy; Laura Linney as Jeff and Nealy's wiggy neighbor; Kerry Washington as Jeff's friend and confidante and Ray Liotta as her erratic husband; and a beatific Dennis Haysbert as the recipient of Jeff's better instincts.

For more, well, details, take a risk on this eccentric diversion.

"The Details." MPAA rating: R for language, sexual content, some drug use and brief violence. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. At Sundance Sunset Cinema, West Hollywood. Also available on VOD.

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